Recently we discovered the Hotel Mercure parking garage with larger spaces right off the ring road that runs between the Rhone River and the old defensive walls of Avignon. There is a sign for the hotel and parking on the ring road near Saint-Bénezet Bridge, also known as the Pont d'Avignon, a medieval bridge that partially crosses the Rhone River.
Enter into Avignon through the arched gate near the bridge and you will see a sign for the parking garage. There is always lots of parking available, maybe because people think it's for the hotel, but trust me it's open to the public. Park and when you walk out of the garage, the first thing you see is Notre-Dame des Doms Cathedral and the Palais des Papes, a very convenient place to park.
|Notre-Dame des Doms Cathedral|
We have seen most of the historical sites in Avignon and so when we go now, which is often, we go so Shirley can shop and we eat in nice restaurants. In addition to restaurants I find in the red Michelin Guide, I also read the France board on Chowhound, a food discussion website where readers ask and give recommendations on food and restaurants.
This summer, we dined at "Les 5 Sens," a restaurant I discovered on the Chowhound website. The restaurant is located near pricey boutiques on Rue Joseph Vernet near Place Crillon. It was a beautiful sunny day so diners were seated at tables on the cobblestone courtyard in front of the restaurant.
|"Les 5 Sens" diners with restaurant to the rear|
The restaurant is owned by Christelle Baucher who greets and serves guests and the chef Thierry Baucher who was born into a family of traiteurs, a catering business devoted to take-out food and banquet service in the Midi-Pyrénées.
|"Les 5 Sens" Menu|
As you know, we really like Michelin "Bib Gourmand" restaurants because of the great quality they provide for a modest price, three courses for 31 Euros or less. We didn't choose to eat at "Les 5 Sens" restaurant for that reason, in fact it is higher priced. We went because they offer a special three-course vegetarian menu for 39 Euros, one of the few times we have seen this option in Provence.
Shirley went with the vegetarian menu, happy to have a non-fish option and I chose the three-course Menu Carte Gourmande for 59 Euros. We selected a bottle of the 2012 Domaine de Bunan Côtes de Provence Rosé for our lunch.
|2012 Domaine de Bunan Côtes de Provence Rosé|
To start our meal, the chef sent out some pretty, chilled zucchini soup with a dollop of fresh cheese and grated parmesan.
|Chilled zucchini soup with fresh cheese and grated parmesan cheese|
The first course on the vegetarian menu was a chilled tomato basil soup with strawberry chunks, sliced radish, mozzarella mousse and chives.
|Chilled tomato basil soup with strawberry, mozzarella mousse and chives|
My first course was a Tarte fine with ratatouille, goat cheese, onion, radish, thinly sliced zucchini with grilled squid.
|Tarte fine with grilled squid|
Shirley's vegetarian plate included puréed carrots, endive roesti, quinoa risotto, tiny asparagus, onions and mushrooms, fingerling potatoes with sorrel sauce and zucchini and peas.
The chef is from the Midi-Pyrénées and his cassoulet with sausage and beans was authentic and delicious. We rarely see cassoulet on menus in Provence so I was happy to find one of my favorite dishes on the menu. It was accompanied by a green salad.
One of our desserts was a café gourmand with a selection of tiny bite-sized desserts and cup of espresso.
The other dessert was a chocolate finger with white chocolate mousse and lemon sorbet.
|Chocolate finger with white chocolate mousse and lemon sorbet|
We truly enjoyed our lunch at "Les 5 Sens." It is definitely a little more pricey than what we normally choose, but it was very good and a great change for Shirley from her normal fish fare.
|A happy Shirley pauses for a picture after lunch|
Les 5 Sens Restaurant
18 Rue Joseph Vernet
Tel: 04 90 85 26 51